GREAT FEATURES I wish elementary OS had by default

April 28, 2020

There are a few features I’d like to have integrated by default in elementary OS. Some of them, I can get by installing third party software, some simply don’t exist, but these are the things I wish elementary OS hadby default !

Better search
As of now, search in elementary OS is pretty basic: you can search for applications and do simple calculations in the “Applications menu”, and look for files in the file manager, but that’s about it. No quick system-wide file search, no web search, no contacts or photos search,… You can install Albert for this kind of functionnality, and it looks pretty nice as well, but having this integrated on a system wide level, through the applications menu or a quick launcher would be amazing.

Mobile phone sync
KDE Connect is a fantastic tool to exchange data from your Android phone to your computer, and vice versa. It’s also being extended to work natively with GNOME shell through GS Connect, and it’s rumored Ubuntu will integrate it by defaut in their next release. Having an elementary OS GUI developed and integrated in the desktop would be fantastic ! It could allow you to easily send files through a right click in the file manager, add notifications for texts and messages, which you could respond to from the desktop, and use your phone as a remote for various music players. All of this is already doable by installing KDE connect, but the integration with elementary is poor.

Better package management
The AppCenter currently does ot support flatpaks or snaps, or even standard deb packages.
The simple ability to install flatpaks and snap files throught the AppCenter, as well as handling deb files out of the box would be a great addition to the system. I understand the logic behind pushing a more secure system by default, but non power users would not download .deb or flatpaks anyway as of now.

Online accounts integration
GNOME features stellar online accounts functionnality: add google account, and you get instant access to your google photos, drive files, your contacts, your email account… ISince most of the backend work is already done, all we’re missing is the actual integration with an elementary like interface, and the connections to the file manager to go with it. THis could be a real time saver, and I’d love to see elementary OS catch up on this front.

Better LibreOffice integration
LibreOffice is a fantastic open source office suite. It works well, handles most file types like a charm, and can be adapted to suit a lot of workflows, but on elementary OS, it looks terrible. If you don’t install the required packages, it will come with a theme from the 90’s, and even with system integration enabled, it still looks pretty out of place. Menubars, icons, and general windows and controls just look too alien to the elementary OS desktop. Allowing the installation of a meta package that would install the GTK integration with a more elementary like GTK2 theme, the elementary icon set, and setting the notebook bar by default would probably be a better fit.

Better AppCenter
I love the AppCenter. It’s one of the better designed app stores for Linux, and is really useful. However, I think listings could be improved to look a bit more graphic and appealing, and separation between elementary apps and non-curated applications from the repos could be improved. The main missing feature, in my opinion, is a dedicated account: as of now, any purchase you make is not logged, so there is no way of telling the system that you already bought this app once if you reinstall. And since elementary OS requires you to reinstall between each major version, this is going to be a problem in the coming years.

A few nitpicks
This leads me to one of the things that seem to annoy a lot of people: there is no direct upgrade path. I understand the team is small and can’t spend too much time on making sure a direct upgrade from one major version to another goes perfectly, especially since major releases are about 2 years apart, but this is a frustration that probably kept a few users from upgrading. A lot of stuff can accumulate in two years, and migrating that to a whole new fresh system can be a pain.
A backup feature could also help a lot, to store files and personnal data, as well as config files for the main eOS apps on a drive, which could then be reimported onto the new system, leaving only the apps to be reinstalled afterwards.

In the end, Is till think elementary OS is the best system for me for now. Minimalistic, beautifully crafted, with a fantastic team focused on the user, and good ides to move their desktop forward. I’ll keep exploring other Desktop ENvironments to compare and give my impressions, so stay tuned for that, and for more elementary OS videos !

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